Play Hard and Stay Truthful

PERSONAL CREDO

“As an aspiring public relations practitioner, I strive for excellence, not perfection. I firmly believe that committing to the truth, no matter how difficult it is to face and acknowledging mistakes today will help me improve myself for tomorrow. With Honesty, perseverance and hard work as my core values, I strive to be a better person both personally and professionally.”

Although my personal credo can apply to different aspects of my life, it is the core of my future career as a public relations professional.

As a result of all the ethical implications public relations carries, it can be a very delicate profession. From transparency vs. conflicts interest to confidentiality and integrity, there are many ethical standards set in the industry that PRSA and PR professionals must follow.

Although many industries where a PR professional can grow, my desire company would be inside the video game industry (interactive entertainment industry). However, as fun as it may sound to work for industry giants such as Sony Interactive Entertainment or an indie studio like Toby Fox, there will be many instances where my personal credo and its values will be challenged.

THE VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY AND ETHICAL ISSUES

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No Man’s Sky, an action adenture game released August 2016 by indie developer Hello Games. Source: Hello Games.

Released worldwide in August 2016, No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival video game developed and published by Hello Games, an independent video game developer, for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. Although Hello Games is a relatively small developer studio with less than 15 employees, Sony provided with promotional and publishing help throughout the development cycle of the game.

Originally, No Man’s Sky would offer players a shared universe where players would be able to exchange coordinates with others and travel to worlds other players have discovered. The game promised an epic gaming experience in which each player would encounter unique worlds and adventures to experience and share those with others inside a massively diverse and complex universe that changed and grew with them as they played. Although what they promise was not impossible, by its release date, many of these aspects were not fully implemented or were too simplistic to be considered the finished feature of the game.

Although No Man’s Sky had an enormous commercial success being the best-selling game release on the PlayStation Store for the month of August, it was critically panned by both the media and online users as a result of the lack of promised features.

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Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of media products: music albums, games, movies, TV shows, DVDs, and formerly, books. No Man’s Sky for PC currently holds a Metacritic score of 61 with a 2.5 score given by its users. Source: Metacritic

WHERE DID IT GO WRONG

As an aspiring PR professional, my credo and values would have helped Hello Games prevent this situation by providing truthful information and offering factual context by addressing mistakes and taking a stance on them.

First, No Man’s Sky critical failure and Hello Games loss of credibility could have been prevented if Hello Games had been more transparent and genuine about things that may or may not make it into the finished game. Being honest, a core value from my personal credo prevents the public and the industry from claiming you tried to cover up mistakes or oversell a product. Instead, honesty helps state the truth and address the issue at hand by speaking to key publics and stating the importance of it and why it matters.

As game developers, Hello Games could have released a statement when the game was first delayed addressing features that were being worked on and may get dropped.

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Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida talks about No Man’s Sky backlash a month after release. Source: Kotaku

Secondly, an ethical public relations communicator would have offered more than just the facts, but the context of the story. Hello Games could have explained to the media covering the game and their publics about the missing features and inconsistencies between the footage shown on the marketing materials and the final product before the game launched. Sean Murray, director and lead developer at Hello Games, should have released a statement addressing the disparity between the game and its marketing upon release instead of going silent. If he had done so, it would have gone a long way to mitigate the anger and manage the crisis. The fact that he and his studio still did not address any of it until months later showed their unprofessionalism and hugely affected their credibility and how gamers perceived the game.

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